THE International Truck and Engine Corp has been producing trucks at its assembly plant in the Dallas suburb of Garland since 1997.
But the only similarity between then and now is the structure itself. Inside, International has completely gutted the 550,000-sq-ft facility, revamping the entire plant and making it a modern, efficient center for the production of its high-performance trucks. The plant ramped-up production in October with 15 trucks a day, and International expects this rate to continually increase. In December, production will be fully launched for the severe-service 7300/7400, followed in March by the 7500/8500.
To celebrate the grand re-opening in Garland, International held “Take On Texas” on November 5-6, with hundreds of customers and dealers touring the facility and even getting behind the wheel of the 7000 series trucks and 8500 tractor at the Texas Motor Speedway.
“We're moving ahead at a time when many others are pulling back,” said Steve Keate, president of International's truck group. “When we decided this was going to be the location of our new 7000 and 8000 series products, we knew we had to dramatically upgrade the capability and the quality processes of the plant. We have new operating systems, new manufacturing processes, and state-of-the-art paint capabilities.
“We are dedicated to providing more value to our customers in the government, construction, waste and regional hauling businesses, and the renovated Garland assembly plant is proof of that commitment. With this newly renovated plant, International hopes to set a benchmark in the truck manufacturing industry. The modernized features and improved efficiency of the Garland facility allow our customers to be confident in the products and services International provides.”
The Garland facility is manufacturing the 7000 series trucks for the government, construction, and waste industries, the 8500 tractor for the regional hauling business, and the 5000i series, which it says is “the most complete premium severe-service line in the industry.”
New features of the Garland plant:
All new simplified moving lines that maximize efficiency during assembly.
New high-quality, emissions-friendly paint systems. For superior corrosion resistance and a virtually fade-proof finish, an e-coat dip/base coat/urethane clear coat paint process is used, backed by a five-year cab limited warranty.
An updated computer system streamlines the operations of the entire plant, maximizing efficiency.
A separate building for chemicals and isolation floor guards for spills provide more safety for the plant workers.
According to chief engineer Tom Smith, the chassis of the 7000 series has frame rails that go into precision squaring, and with the inverted assembly, the undercarriage is more ergonomically accessible. He said International is trying to eliminate the need for reinforcements by using single, larger-section rails, thus saving 120 to 140 lb per chassis.
Greg Pac, engineering manager for the 7000 series, said each rail is washed after it arrives from Midland, Texas, then is electro-statically painted and baked at 140° F for 10 minutes. There are powder-coated fuel tanks, steps, and air tanks, and color-coded air lines and continuously numbered electrical wires.
Keate said International is fully focused on delivering value.
“The project started out as a next-generation truck, and we started to think a little bigger: How about a next-generation vehicle,” he said. “Over time, that vision evolved to next-generation business. And when we talked about next-generation business, we're talking not only about the product, but the way we design the product, the way we manufacture the product, the way we market the product. It had been 25 years since we had upgraded or brought out a new product.”